Hitler's signature work, "Mein Kampf", was written while he was in prison (!), following the failure of his so-called "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich in 1923.

In the book, he laid out in excruciating detail, a step-by-step blueprint of his future plans, which included:

  1. Making himself the absolute dictator (not a President or even king with constitutionally limited power) of the country that imprisoned him.
  2. Destroying or pushing to the brink of destruction the enemies of his adopted country, to the point of at least threatening to dominate the whole world.
  3. Using his future (!) soldiers and "policemen" to arrest and kill as many members of his least favorite group as they could get their hands on.

Hitler's subsequent rise to power was improbable for the following reasons:

  1. he was a prisoner (and a convicted felon) at the time he wrote the book;
  2. although "German-speaking," he had been born an Austrian, not a German; and
  3. he was poor, badly educated (a high school drop-out who was turned down for post-secondary school training (art schools in Vienna)), and a former "foot soldier" (not commissioned officer) from World War I.

In short, he was less than obvious "leadership" material.

Unfortunately, Hitler did "execute." But no one in power took "Mein Kampf" seriously, with the notable exception of Winston Churchill (who was, however,"out of power" early on).

Has any other leader (or CEO) in history (political, commercial, religious) similarly followed the script of a book they published before coming to power?

  • I think "precise" or "prescriptive" is better than "accurate". Probably wouldn't get you as many close votes. I suppose I agree mien Kampf was prescriptive, but I'm not sure how well the specific details lined up with real life.
    – Nathan
    Mar 11, 2013 at 18:07
  • @NathanCooper: The details were eerily "accurate." But I took your suggestion to use prescriptive. I put "accurate" in quotes earlier because I couldn't find the right word. Now that I've edited the post, people can "undownvote" it. Would any of the downvoters care to do so?
    – Tom Au
    Mar 11, 2013 at 18:11

4 Answers 4


The example that comes to my mind is Frederick W. Smith, who, as a student at Yale in the 1960s, wrote a wild-sounding economics paper about a proposal for an air courier service. This was before he "came to power." It reportedly received a C from a professor who said, "The idea has to work in the real world."

Five years or so, later, while Smith was still in his twenties, he founded Federal Express, a company modeled along the lines of his paper. That's rather improbable, for a twenty-something to become the CEO of a company that would become a major corporation.

It was only slightly more probable than the story of the poor, badly educated former foot soldier, who, in eight years (1925-1933) rose from prisoner to the second most powerful man in the world (after FDR). Few, if anyone has produced such a deadly accurate "business plan" before becoming "CEO." Hopefully, no one will ever again "execute" (in more ways than one) like him.

Incidentally, Smith has said that he learned more from history, than business, books. http://www.usnews.com/news/campaign-2008/articles/2008/07/24/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-fred-smith


The US Constitution is not a book per-se, but it does quite clearly outline a specific plan for implementing a particular, theretofore untested form of government, which as yet had no power because it did not exist, but was subsequently implemented quite successfully by its authors themselves and their disciples, bringing them great power.

The argument has also been made that the French Revolution was essentially an attempt at a concrete implementation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract, (it is however, highly questionable as to how successful they were in that endeavor...) see: The Social Contract helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially in France.


Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, a History, Chapter 2.5.I regarding the revolutionary constitution of 1791: (one of numerous references there)

They have made the Constitution, these Twelve Hundred Jean-Jacques Evangelists; not without result.

Although Rousseau never held an official position in the revolutionary government, (he died in 1778, before the Revolutionary Era) he was venerated by the revolutionaries as their "patron saint".

Supra, Chapter 2.1.VIII (again, one of many):

Old women here swearing their ten children on the new Evangel of Jean Jacques;

  • You are quite fond of Carlyle, it seems :) Jul 22, 2013 at 11:07
  • Took me 1.5 years to get through that thing - so you bet I'm going to use it! Thinking to hit next his book on Frederick the Great.“The figures of most historians seem like dolls stuffed with bran, whose whole substance runs out through any hole that criticism may tear in them; but Carlyle's are so real in comparison, that, if you prick them, they bleed.” James Russell Lowell.
    – user2590
    Jul 22, 2013 at 18:56

I'm not sure if you agree with this, as this is a military example, but "generals are prepared to the previous wars" so I think this is worth mentioning.

In his works (finalized with the "Achtung Panzer!") Heinz Guderian laid grounds for effective use of tank weapon. When WW 1 ended, everyone expected that massive forts will be better. Guderian opted for mobile warfare for entire inter-war period.


A lot of people are right now following George Orwell's 1984 as a manual for what the perfect society should look like and implementing it in various countries all around the world.
Same with Marx's Das Kapital, that's been used like that for a century or more.

  • 2
    Pretty good answer, and an upvote. But my "real" question was not, did someone accurately predict something, but rather, did someone faithfully follow his own script? Orwell and Marx didn't make THEMSELVES dictators (even though they reasonably predicted dictatorships by OTHERS).
    – Tom Au
    Mar 9, 2013 at 16:44
  • @TomAu not quite. He mentions Hitler following his own book, but the actual question doesn't say it has to be a book written by the person(s) using it.
    – jwenting
    Mar 9, 2013 at 16:47
  • jwenting: Ok, added HE to "Has any other leader (or CEO) in history (political, commercial, religious) similarly followed the script of a book HE published BEFORE his coming to power?"
    – Tom Au
    Mar 9, 2013 at 16:51
  • 1
    Das Kapital doesn't contain a programme, nor does it contain predictions about future function except the argument over the decline of rate of profit (between OCC crises? absolutely) and emiseration (relative? absolute?), both of which were bleedingly obvious in the 50 year trend data. Mar 13, 2013 at 19:23
  • 2
    1984 was a proscribed book in most of the Soviet bloc. The only exception I know of is Yugoslavia Apr 21, 2013 at 16:49

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